Why local context and personal connection are essential for expanding internationally

While more and more companies are expanding their offerings overseas, there are a few key factors that can differentiate a company from the rest. OFX’s CEO Skander Malcolm spoke to Ross Greenwood on the Origins Australia podcast series about how a change in mindset, one that emphasizes local context and personal connections, is necessary for any business looking to expand internationally.  https://omny.fm/shows/origins-australia/origins-australia-ofx/embed?style=cover Whilst the traditional mindset was that global expansion was too difficult due to Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world, we are now seeing a shift with Australian companies understanding they now have the resources and connections to go global.

“Australian companies have a lot of basic advantages, we’re very straightforward, very practical, but if you’re going to go global you’ve really got to get in and understand some of the local nuances,” Skander says in the podcast. Part of expanding a business globally is ensuring your company has the flexibility to adapt to different contexts, and this is particularly so for implementing products and services around the world. 

Understanding local context

When looking to expand a company globally, rather than assuming because a product sells in your home country, it will everywhere else, it’s best to take an attitude that seeks to understand local context instead.

This requires companies to be flexible in their approach, be that towards cultural or organisational differences across the world. This means taking the time to assess the local structures that would support your business, product, employee retention and policy, and how you can make that work. “If you’re selling to Americans, you’ve got to understand Americans, if you’re selling to Europeans you’ve got to understand a little bit about Europe,” says Skander. Even if you’re using suppliers in other countries, understanding more about the context of those locations will also be hugely beneficial in understanding the full scope of a company. 

Hiring local leaders is an excellent way to fully understand local context. Establishing a local point of communication who can be on the ground and ready to report to the global team allows insight into local customer concerns. This also provides a window into implementing that customer feedback throughout the company processes.

Using technology for payments

Personal connections with your customer base

Implementing customer-centric models in your global expansion often means providing greater personal connections between the company and the consumer. This means building better connections with your customer base in order understand their feedback and create a better product as a result. Be that through a 24/7 customer support model, like OFX offers, to social media engagement and fresh content that tells the story of your brand in a way that people can connect and engage with regularly. 

It helps for the executive team to get involved and see what’s happening on the ground too, “I spend a lot of time on the phones because I really think that I learn the most when I’m actually listening to customers. It’s unfiltered and you get a sense of what they’re actually doing,” Skander explains. 

The founder of OFX, Matt Gilmour, started with the very simple proposition of making foreign exchange simple for the average person. Since OFX’s beginnings as an information only website, the company has since grown to offer a variety of tools and expertise in foreign exchange, but at the core of it, keeping their simple proposition of simplicity and authenticity.

OFX app on phone

This is shown by one example that Skander pulled from his experiences on the phones. An OFX corporate dealer helped a travel agent who largely booked ski trips in Canada and Japan understand why the Japanese Yen was bouncing around the market so much. The personable manner of the dealer really helped the client understand how those movements can impact their business in the long-run.

OFX has grown to not only provide money transfers, but also in the area of tools to manage risk with ease. These tools, like a simple forward contract, are a great way to give businesses the certainty they need without the complexities.

Traditional financial structures like banks have developed trustworthy systems, but in doing so, are able to charge their customers more than they should, which leads to many people thinking: ‘surely there’s a better solution’. Companies like OFX are built on the back of this notion in bringing simple solutions and genuine human connections to the customer. As a growth company that services other growth companies, the ability to offer an easy, accessible service has been a key point of difference for OFX as a emerging big player in the increasingly competitive space of foreign exchange.

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. UKForex Limited (trading as “OFX”) and its affiliates make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.

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